Basic Knowledge How to Cut Ceramic Tile

The secret to cutting ceramic tile is the ability to be able to measure accurately and have good hand and eye coordination.
Understanding Ceramic Tile Specs : It is necessary to manufacture standard ceramic tile to very tight specs, where basically one piece is an identical replica of the previous one, to ensure that the grout lines are uniform. This is also why it is imperative that you must be able to measure and cut ceramic tile accurately. When the grout lines are not uniform they look very bad and you can see them from a mile away.

You must cut ceramic tiles to be within a one sixteenth of an inch in order to avoid problems. One eight inch is considered the typical width of a finished grout joint for wall ceramic tile, although it can in fact be a bit smaller. Basically what this means is when you cut a ceramic tile to bump against another tile the gap must be no smaller than 1/16th inch leaving just enough room for caulk or grout. The finished gap should be no larger than 1/8th inch.

Ceramic Tile Cutters : There are several types of tools that are used when cutting ceramic tile. Tile is similar to glass, and when you score the glazed surface cleanly and then apply some pressure to the sides of the ceramic tile it will break quite cleanly on the score mark most of the time. Most ceramic tile cutters have a carbide wheel which is similar to the standard glass cutters. The simple ceramic tile cutters have a fence that holds the ceramic tile square to the cutting blade and all you have to do is simply slide the handle while applying pressure and you will get a clean straight line.

The ceramic tile will pop when you press down on the back of the handle. Tile cutters are usually designed to only cut down to 5/8 inch wide pieces of tile, but if you happen to need thinner pieces of ceramic tile you will have to cut these with a carbide blade that fits into a hacksaw or use an abrasive saw blade or a diamond wet saw. Diamond wet saws are by far the best tool for cutting ceramic tiles but unfortunately, they are also the most expensive. These saws actually have tiny pieces of diamonds on the sides and edge of the blade and water is used to keep the blade cool which helps it stay sharper longer.

Types of Cuts: To make an L Cut you will have to cut one side of the L Cut with a saw then use a regular cutter to make the short score cut and snap it to complete the cutout. Do not score the ceramic tile, because if you try to break off just a piece of tile, the rest will break out unevenly.

Circles and Curves: Circles and curves can be cut by buying either very nice carbide circle hole saws which is expensive, or you can opt to buy an inexpensive carbide rod saw which fits into a regular hacksaw frame. When using the rod saw you will have to drill a large enough hole in the tile that will allow you to insert the actual blade. Once the blade is in the hole you then attach the rod saw blade to the hacksaw frame and be sure and support the ceramic tile very firmly as you saw. Supporting the ceramic tile is very important because if you don’t when you reach near the end of the cut the ceramic tile will crack. It is a good idea to slow down the cutting process and use less force as you approach the end of the cut.

Nippers: Nippers are very coarse tools that have carbide jaws, which will actually bite of pieces of tile. You simply bite the ceramic tile and remove the jagged chunks. This tool can also cut gentle curves in tile. Because the final cut surface of this tool is not smooth it is usually used for cuts such as a shower faucet handle which often has a 1/2 inch trim overhang, giving you enough room to disguise the jagged edge of the tile.

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